The eclipse of sep­a­ratist pol­i­tics, the dawn of peace

The peo­ple of J&K do not want vi­o­lence. Ter­ror is down. A na­tion­al­ist, pro-de­vel­op­ment lead­er­ship is emerg­ing

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Comment - RAM MADHAV Ram Madhav is na­tional gen­eral sec­re­tary, Bharatiya Janata Party, and di­rec­tor, In­dia Foun­da­tion The views ex­pressed are per­sonal

Prime Min­is­ter (PM) Naren­dra Modi vis­ited Srinagar in May 2018. It was Ramzan and the Union home min­istry had an­nounced a uni­lat­eral cease­fire in the state. The prime min­is­ter was there to in­au­gu­rate sev­eral de­vel­op­ment projects.

“My ap­peal to these mis­guided youth is to re­turn to the na­tional main­stream, which is their own fam­ily, and par­tic­i­pate in the de­vel­op­ment of Jammu and Kash­mir,” he said in his ad­dress at the Sher-iKash­mir In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Cen­tre. “Every stone or weapon picked up by the youth of this state is only meant to desta­bilise their own state,” he cau­tioned. Dur­ing an ear­lier visit in 2016, he had laid out his de­vel­op­ment agenda by in­vok­ing for­mer prime min­is­ter Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee — “Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee gave the mantra — In­saniyat, Jamhooriya­t, Kash­miriyat. He based Jammu&Kash­mir’s de­vel­op­ment on this. We need to take it for­ward”.

The twin themes of peace and de­vel­op­ment have guided the PM’s Jammu and Kash­mir (J&K) poli­cies. The ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cles 370 and 35A was a corol­lary of that. The so-called main­stream par­ties in J&K were used to a dif­fer­ent kind of emo­tional pol­i­tics pitched around sep­a­ratist agen­das. They knew well that Ar­ti­cle 370 had been hol­lowed out by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments start­ing with Jawa­har­lal Nehru. Yet, they used the chimera of special sta­tus to mis­lead peo­ple, breed sep­a­ratism and per­pet­u­ate their rule.

One year af­ter the ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cles 370 and 35A, one thing stands out: The sep­a­ratist and emo­tional nar­ra­tive is no longer work­ing. When some Kash­miri politi­cians rue the fact that they have been made ir­rel­e­vant, it should be un­der­stood that they are un­able to pur­sue the old agen­das. Also gone were the days when Op­po­si­tion lead­ers, from N T Rama Rao to Biju Pat­naik to Jy­oti Basu, would stand shoul­der-to-shoul­der with Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah to form a na­tional al­liance against the Congress. Not a sin­gle po­lit­i­cal party, in­clud­ing the Left par­ties, which used to ar­gue that Kash­miris was a sep­a­rate na­tion, is ready to stand with them on the ques­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370.

The po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship in the Union Ter­ri­tory (UT) must re­alise that Naya Kash­mir needs a new pol­i­tics and agenda. Those who want to per­sist with the old agen­das of sep­a­ratism and rhetoric of “re­sis­tance” would do well to quit main­stream pol­i­tics and choose one of the Hur­riyat fac­tions. The peo­ple of the state are not in the least in­ter­ested in this lan­guage of vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion. There is al­most an 80% dip in the num­ber of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents in the Union ter­ri­to­ries af­ter the ab­ro­ga­tion of Ar­ti­cle 370. There has been a 40% drop in the ter­ror in­ci­dents. There was not a sin­gle civil­ian ca­su­alty at the hands of the se­cu­rity forces in the last one year, whereas ter­ror­ists killed 22 civil­ians in the last six months. The se­cu­rity forces have suc­ceeded in neu­tral­is­ing over 180 ter­ror­ists in the last year. New re­cruit­ments are low. In­ter­est­ingly, even the ter­ror­ists are scared to ini­ti­ate in­ci­dents. The num­ber of at­tacks has come down dras­ti­cally to 21 com­pared to 51 last year.

The peo­ple’s choice is clear — a new pol­i­tics with­out vi­o­lence and emo­tions — on the lines of Va­j­payee’s three prin­ci­ples.

Kash­miriyat was orig­i­nally a con­cept de­not­ing the state’s har­mo­nious plu­ral­ism, Sufi, Bud­dhist and Shivaite tol­er­ance, mul­ti­plic­ity of lan­guages, cus­toms, cuisines and cul­tures, co­ex­ist­ing peace­fully. It was con­verted into a sep­a­ratist po­lit­i­cal hy­per­bole in the 1960s. Real Kash­miriyat, to­gether with in­saniyat — hu­man­ism, and

jamhooriya­t — demo­cratic pol­i­tics, will form the core of the new pol­i­tics.

The march in that di­rec­tion has al­ready be­gun. New par­ties and lead­ers are emerg­ing with an am­bi­tion to pur­sue a con­struc­tive agenda of de­vel­op­ment and peace. With the ex­ten­sion of Ar­ti­cle 73 and 74 of the Con­sti­tu­tion, lo­cal bod­ies from pan­chay­ats up­wards have se­cured more pow­ers. These em­pow­ered grass­roots po­lit­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions are go­ing to throw up a new lead­er­ship. The end of Ar­ti­cle 370 has also ended the in­jus­tice to many sec­tions of so­ci­ety. Sched­uled Tribes, Sched­uled Castes, women, refugees, the LGBTQ com­mu­nity — all of them se­cured their civic and po­lit­i­cal rights in­clud­ing reser­va­tions. The dom­i­nance of a cou­ple of fam­i­lies in pol­i­tics will end and a Do­gra, a Pa­hari, and a Gu­j­jar can as­pire to the high­est po­si­tions now.

Con­trary to the pro­pa­ganda about de­mo­graphic change, the new domi­cile law ac­tu­ally safe­guards the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple of J&K. Un­der the new domi­cile pol­icy, all the jobs in the state have been re­served for domi­ciles only. The job mar­kets are open­ing up with the gov­ern­ment an­nounc­ing a re­cruit­ment for 10,000 va­can­cies. With over ~13,500 crore worth of mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing al­ready signed, pri­vate in­vest­ment in­flows have also started giv­ing more boost to em­ploy­ment. In­fra­struc­ture projects such as roads, power projects, ir­ri­ga­tion works and en­ter­tain­ment projects have picked up mo­men­tum; 50% of the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­vel­op­ment Pack­age of ~80,000 crore, ly­ing un­spent, is be­ing utilised by the ad­min­is­tra­tion to ex­pe­dite sev­eral projects for the public good.

With the de­lim­i­ta­tion com­mis­sion in place and elec­tions to the UT leg­is­la­ture slated post the de­lim­i­ta­tion, UT will soon re­turn into the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship’s hands. Naya Kash­mir is em­bark­ing on a new jour­ney of progress, pros­per­ity and de­vel­op­ment. Lead­ers with a vi­sion for de­vel­op­ment and those fired by the na­tion­al­ist mis­sion will lead the des­tiny of J&K.

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